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A new bridge, and a strong bond: Worthington and Crailsheim celebrate connection with sculpture dedication

WORTHINGTON -- A bridge sculpture ceremony commemorating the sister-city relationship between Worthington and Crailsheim, Germany, took place Friday evening at Chautauqua Park.

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Axel Huss (from left), a Crailsheim exchange student in 1986-87, along with retired Worthington German teacher Curt Pearson and Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle, unveil the Worthington-Crailsheim bridge sculpture Friday at Chautauqua Park. The sculpture commemorates the special connection the two sister cities have enjoyed since 1946. (Tim Middagh/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- A bridge sculpture ceremony commemorating the sister-city relationship between Worthington and Crailsheim, Germany, took place Friday evening at Chautauqua Park.

Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle opened the ceremony by reminding the public that the friendship between the two cities is as important as it was when it began shortly after World War II. Moreover, he said it’s the kind of relationship that not only benefits Worthington and Crailsheim, but also makes the world a better place.

“This connection helps foster understanding on an individual community level,” Kuhle said. “National leaders come and go, but the relationships on our level help to make our world a safer and more peaceful place to live.”

Crailsheim Mayor Rudolf Michl started his speech by thanking the Worthington community for its hospitality. Michl said he is grateful to be part of a friendship that has transcended through time by acceptance and respect.

“As we can learn, we have more in common than in separatingthings,” Michl said. “We also have differences, but despite all we endeavor to meet each other as respected  persons and mostly as friends.”

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Michl invited the German delegation, which has been in Worthington all this week, to come to the bandshell stage. He then gave Kuhle a gift symbolizing appreciation for Worthington’s hospitality.

In addition, District 22 Sen. Bill Weber, retired Worthington German teacher Curt Pearson, and former Worthington mayors Alan Oberloh and Robert J, Demuth gave speeches about their unique roles in the development of the sister-city relationship.

The sculpture now standing in Chautauqua Park is a replica of the bridge sculpture commissioned in Crailsheim by Axel Huss, a former exchange student from that city. Huss challenged Worthington citizens to construct the other half in 2014, and while speaking during Friday’s dedication shared historical anecdotes and tales of his experiences as an exchange student in Worthington during the 1986-87 school year.

Many members of the audience agreed that one of the key elements that has kept -- and will keep -- the relationship thriving is the exchange program between the two cities.

Roger and Clasine Lester were part of the exchange program two years ago, and both of them learned a lot about Crailsheim. Roger invites younger members of the Worthington community to get involved in the sisterhood.

“I think if young people will do that (get involved), they will acquire a better understanding of the appreciation that the people over there have,” he said. “They have a very deep appreciation of Worthington and what it has done.”

A concert by the "Amazing" Worthington City Band followed the dedication program.

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